Written in 1905, “His Eye is on the Sparrow” is a hymn loved by millions. Civilla Martin based the hymn on words spoken by Christ to the disciples. “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7) There is no trial missed, no cry unheard, no life unseen by our caring God.
The hymn imparts, “‘Let not your heart be troubled,’ His tender word I hear, And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears; Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” When it seems as though we are wandering in the fog of worry and fear, the promise is as necessary as a lighthouse to a ship. The Father’s eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
The hymn is a poignant reminder that though we will find discouragement and loneliness, we were not intended to. We long for home because at present we are not home. Yet God’s careful eye is on even the sparrow, God’s Spirit is on our trail, and one day, we shall make it home.
What must Christ be like if he can tell us not to let our hearts be troubled on the eve of his own violent death? Who is this God we follow, this God who knows every sparrow and know the hairs on our heads?
Civilla Martin’s hymn was inspired by a couple she knew – Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden with illness for almost twenty years. Confined to a wheel chair, Mr. Doolittle was also fraught with adversity. Yet despite their afflictions, they offered inspiration and comfort to all who knew them. When asked how they could have hope in the face of their sufferings, Mrs. Doolittle replied: “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know God watches me.”